Arsenal have confirmed midfielder Santi Cazorla is leaving the club at the end of his contract. The Spanish international made 180 appearances for the Gunners after joining from Malaga in 2012. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis paid tribute to the playmaker, calling him his favourite player to watch.
“Santi is always one of my favourite players to watch. His natural ability with both feet, his speed of thought and movement were central to our best performances in recent years. He plays with a joy and freedom which is very rare. We wish him well for the future and thank him for his important contribution to our club,” he said.
Cazorla has struggled with injuries in the last two years, having last appeared for Arsenal in October 2016. He’s undergone ten operations since, nearly losing his leg to gangrene and was told he’d never be able to play again by specialists.
However, the 33-year-old is on the recovery trail and will train with Villarreal this summer as he bids to earn himself a permanent deal to resurrect his playing career. The Liga side have long missed their playmaker after selling him to Malaga and are desperate to bring him back.
Cazorla had the same effect on Arsenal fans, having been a fan favourite in his six years at the Emirates. He would light up games with his quick feet, creativity and excellent vision, and Arsenal haven’t managed to replace him since he picked up the achilles injury against Ludogorets two years ago.
Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere have failed to replace him in the middle of the park, meaning the Gunners will be forced to shop for a like-for-like replacement for Cazorla.
Stats from Transfermarkt.